The TSB also conducted dozens of smaller investigations each year, and these too have led to
numerous advances in transportation safety. For instance, vessels trading internationally must
now carry survival suits for all crewmembers. Pipeline companies have integrity management
programs to deal proactively with system deficiencies. Railway companies have removed
thousands of defective wheels from service and implemented better systems for tracking
components. In aviation, a greater number of aircraft now require equipment to help avoid
collisions with terrain, and pilots now use improved information to land at smaller airports
in low visibility.
Over the years, TSB expertise has also been called upon around the world. In 1991, the TSB
provided extensive assistance to the government of Saudi Arabia following a fatal crash of a
Canadian-registered aircraft. A TSB investigator served as investigator-in-charge in a Nepalese
aviation accident investigation in 1992. More recently, the TSB assisted New Zealand in its
investigation of a 2009 ferry accident, which was conducted on behalf of the Kingdom of Tonga.
And in 2012, the TSB was asked by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board to lead an
investigation into a mid-air collision in Virginia, in which one of its own employees was involved.
The TSB’s Laboratory, meanwhile, routinely assists other countries with flight recorder analysis.
These and other efforts have helped contribute to our reputation as a world leader in accident
investigation, but we’re also busy—and proactive—at home. Our safety Watchlist, first
implemented in 2010, has been an excellent tool for drawing attention to the issues posing
the greatest risk to Canada’s transportation system. As a result, both Canada’s regulator and
industry members have placed a greater priority in addressing these issues, and we have seen
marked progress. We have also been more active in communicating with Canadians, especially
via our website and social media, as we strive to make more information about accidents and
investigations available sooner.
As transportation continues to evolve, the one constant in all of our work has been change itself:
new challenges are constantly arising, and we must adapt and respond in kind. The introduction
of safety management systems (SMS), for example, has pushed companies in all transportation
modes to take a greater role in managing their own safety—and led investigators to examine
not just the organizational processes they put in place to do so, but the oversight that is then
provided by the regulator. An increase in North American crude oil production, meanwhile,
has led to a staggering increase in oil shipments by rail—and a brighter spotlight on our related
investigations. Finally, with technology itself evolving at such a rapid pace, the sheer-amount
of technical know-how required to do our jobs grows almost daily. This, combined with the
proliferation of 24/7 news channels, portable devices, and the global reach of today’s Internet,
means that the demand for information—and the requirement for us to respond and deliver—
has never been greater.
That’s a lot of change for one country, and for one organization. Looking ahead, the TSB will
continue to investigate accidents, keep pace with changes in the industry and technology, and
effectively communicate what we learn to Canadians and the world.